So after all that, why bother with black and white at all?
First of all it lets me take away some of the complexities that colour brings to an image.
Here, a colour picture of Hebden Bridge in winter is complicated by the dull colours. It’s hard to pick out anything of much interest. By converting it to a monochrome image, I’ve been able to really emphasise the serried ranks of the old weaver cottages striding away up the hills. The lines become much clearer and even though you lose the soft browns of the gritstone in the cottage walls, you gain so much more. A tighter crop also helps of course.
Vegetation is always a challenge in monochrome. There’s just so much green! The trick here is to make sure you have sufficient dark structures somewhere in the image – some nice branches work well. Letting the light filter through the vegetation softens the shadows and provides a gentle backdrop for the tree trunks. As a result your eyes are drawn more to the length of the glade and less to the variety of bright green stuff in the trees.